Tags: HIV | virus | AIDS | Cuba | CRF19

New, Aggressive Strain of HIV Discovered in Cuba

Tuesday, 17 Feb 2015 10:00 AM


 
A new form of HIV recently discovered in Cuba progresses into AIDS three times faster than the most common strains of the virus. Researchers from Belgium's University of Leuven found that Cuban patients infected with the new strain, called CRF19, developed full-blown AIDS in less than three years, much sooner than the normal 10 years it usually takes.
 
Patients also had higher levels of the virus in their bodies, causing scientists to fear that AIDS develops so quickly that patients will not realize they are ill until the disease is advanced. Although current anti-viral drugs are effective against the recently discovered strain, by the time patients seek treatment the disease may be too far advanced for them to do much good.
 
"Cuban clinicians had noticed that they recently had more and more patients who were progressing much faster to AIDS than they were used to," researcher Anne-Mieke Vandamme told Voice of America. "In this case, most of these patients had AIDS even at diagnosis already," she said.

Vandamme and her colleagues divided patients into two groups. One group was comprised of people who had developed AIDS quickly.

"So this group of patients that progressed very fast, they were all recently infected," she said. "And we know that because they had been HIV negative tested one or a maximum two years before," she said.

How rapidly HIV progresses to AIDS usually depends on the strength of a patient's immune system, but in the Cuban patients, they found that those whose disease progressed rapidly had a particular variant, which was named CRF19.

Vandamme discovered why the disease advances so rapidly. For HIV infection to take place, the virus has to attach on the outside of cells at particular points called co-receptors.

"There are two types of co-receptors that HIV can use: CCR5 or CXCR4," Vandamme told Voice of America. "In the normal progression of the HIV to AIDS it often happens that the virus switches co-receptor. It almost always starts with using CCR5 and then it switches to CXCR4 after many years. And once it switches the progression to AIDS goes very fast."

With the new CRF19 virus, however, the switch takes place in less than three years.

Vandamme said that the new strain is widespread in Cuba, and that it is important for people who have unprotected sex with multiple partners to be tested often for HIV.
 

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A new form of HIV recently discovered in Cuba progresses into AIDS three times faster than the most common strains of the virus. Researchers from Belgium's University of Leuven found that Cuban patients infected with the new strain, called CRF19, developed full-blown AIDS...
HIV, virus, AIDS, Cuba, CRF19
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2015-00-17
Tuesday, 17 Feb 2015 10:00 AM
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